Archive for the 'meme' Category


let me tell you about my game

Hi. I’m a Dungeons & Dragons addict. Is that how it’s supposed to start?

I started playing back in junior school when BBC’s Pebble Mill did a hobby piece featuring Leslie Ash pre-lip surgery and it sounded like fun so I got a red box with books and dice you had to colour in yourself. I then got the Fiend Folio (daringly ignoring the Players Handbook, DMG & Monster Manual) and watched Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back from very different perspectives.

Friends played and moved onto running around fields, chasing girls and listening to punk rock while others discovered drugs. I kept playing as families went nuclear or shattered (mine was the latter) and I found solace from the early 1980s, Thatcherite politics and spectres of nuclear war in fantastical worlds, dabbling with Traveller & Runequest with Michael Jackson, Mike Oldfield, Phil Collins, Genesis and Queen playing in the background.

I got a Jonesin’ for fantasy literature and discovered my uncle’s Shakespeare collection in Tel Aviv. 1984 I got into 1E AD&D, along with Gamma World. I was the school geek anyway so it didn’t matter – council estate hip hop just wasn’t my thing and I slowly but surely discovered rock music, girls, drinking and all those things keeping those who refuse to conform afloat.

Friends moved on, I went to college and discovered Unearthed Arcana, Saturday working, mid-week clubbing, hard drinking and shouty adolescent relationships. I got my act together, played a triple-class drow fighter/magic-user/thief, a conniving magical charlatan and a flint-hearted druid, did the fast food & hot dates thing then found my future wife (and gamer) to the horror of my family before going to Uni for three years.

Gaming and blondes, inextricably linked to me. A good thing? I think so.

In Uni, I accumulated a pretty impressive character body count in one particular 1E game then 2nd ed came out. I discovered gamer friends and computers, dabbled in LARP, widened my social circle, played in one epic campaign, ran two epic campaigns, dabbled in other things and returned to being hungover every Thursday owing to a brilliant rock night. After Uni, recession, biotechnology went onto the back burner and jobs were hard to come by.

Games kept me occupied between searching for jobs paid more than nothing. Our characters – phlegmatic fighters, cunning magi, reckless swashbucklers, ill-starred Vikings and inept thieves gave us hope. The social circle dwindled and bloomed again. Another 2E campaign I ran led to some wonderful memories. The campaign my future wife ran led to more. We experimented with vampires, werewolves, Arthurian knights (and how!) and then back to old faithful.

Relationships formed, were tested, broke, mine held on against all odds as I discovered Usenet and ICQ, then there was a little thing called Magic: The Gathering. The gaming industry faced a crucible that it came out of with D&D 3rd edition. Eventually we settled down, regular game sessions and marriage. The books came out fast and loose, some of us noticed the publish or perish model was being followed. Options were explored. And how!

I played an elven monk, a bumbling priest of Fharlanghn and when the DM stopped killing us and had fun, a halfling gossip with a heart of gold. 3.5 came out and people protested though it smoothed some rough edges down exposed by the flood of books. And if you think 4E was a whingefest, I recall extreme bile on 3.5 vs. 3.0 – one impassioned soul said he would never play D&D again to our cynical laughter. He’s now running Pathfinder.

The next game I played a lawman with a sorcerous dark secret in a world where gods lied and hid their deeds and it was fun – that story hasn’t ended yet, the DM experimented with other worlds – a twisted realm where I indulged my dark side with a mage whose mutating form was as treacherous as he was and a shattered world where I played a musician, swashbuckler and assassin. I GM’d a game of Celtic heroics and that game isn’t finished either.

Somebody created this thing called World of Warcraft. Back to the crucible.

Now we have 4E. Like Marmite, people love it or hate it. I like it but despair of ever finding a group unless I run it apparently. I appear to have come full circle. Sometimes blogging is lonely work but then you set a spark and people chase it for miles. Now I’m back from Cyprus I’ve got a few ideas. You’ll see some here. Some names you’ll recognise; others you won’t unless you were part of a select circle. So where now? Onward, dear friends. Once more unto the breach!


this is what a best seller looks like… and I do…

A hat tip to Wizards of the Coast for getting Players Handbook 2 onto the Wall Street Journal’s best seller list during the recession. Interesting to see other fantasy/sci-fi books in there as well. While I’m posting about recession-proof gaming, it looks like Wizards have still got the mojo and the gnome fans have buying power – maybe they’re from Zurich? The Core Mechanic has additional figures as does the Paizo message board. Makes interesting reading, particularly with comments about all the nay-saying over 4E being a total over-reaction to the release. Wait and see, says I.

In the interests of breaking ice and just because…

What do I do? Well…

  • I do roleplaying with voices and props. I soak paper in cold tea before baking it for that ‘aged parchment’ look. Then I practice my calligraphy chops on them. I could put it in the printer but hand-written just looks better and less uniform…
  • I do epic and lo-fi campaigns (I prefer lo-fi but my players love epic, go figure).
  • I do games with music in the background and think movie soundtracks rock. Nothing quite says Dark Sun like Gladiator or modern horror like Natural Born Killers or Resident Evil.
  • I do old WoD in preference to new. Gorgeous as Vampire: The Requiem looks, I’m not thrilled about the nWoD, especially with what happened to Mage. I have high hopes for Hunter: The Vigil if I can find someone to run a game. So not unreasonable, eh?
  • I do laptop at the table if we get the power or the battery life right.
  • I rarely foray into marathon games unless I get a couple of days to recover. I’m old, my ears are dim, eyes are bent, knees are knackered…
  • I write fiction about games but only if there’s no danger of a player discovering things they would not know about as it breaks the flow.
  • I do minatures and tape measures though I find it can interferes with the flow of play. Despite this, some of the most enjoyable 3E games I’ve played involved figures (and tokens). Just keep pets from the table eh?
  • I do fantasy, cyberpunk and modern tabletop with the rare guilty pleasure superhero game. I’m still looking for the perfect sci-fi game (Classic Traveller came close, Trinity didn’t alas, Star Wars is fun for one-offs, …in Spaaace! is my latest hope).
  • I play boardgames on occasion – my current favourites are Arkham Horror and Khet.
  • I do LARP (sci-fi only – one based on Stargate and another cyberpunk).
  • I do cream soda, dandelion & burdock, Relentless, mead, heather ale and real beer.
  • I do crisps/chips/potato snacks, chocolate, take-outs (the more off-the-wall, the better) chocolate cake and fresh fruit & veg with dips in the summertime. I plan on hosting a gaming barbecue if the weather will let me this year.
  • And yes… I do meme posts when I lack willpower.